GL examines scrubber technology

02 Dec 2011

Germanischer Lloyd recently held a forum at its Hamburg head office to discuss exhaust gas scrubbers, which GL agrees provide one solution to tightening regulations governing sulphur emissions from ship engines.

GL points out that pressure on the shipping industry to reduce air emissions from vessels grows day by day. Regulations to limit the sulphur content in marine fuel are already in place, and set to tighten over the coming year. Over 50 representatives from the maritime industry, shipping companies, ship management agencies, shipyards and other stakeholders met to hear presentations and discuss the drivers, implementation and commercial implications of scrubber technology for the industry.

Ralf Plump, head of GL's department environmental research, looked at the international regulations in place and upcoming, the drivers pushing their introduction, and the advantages provided by scrubber technology. Plump also outlined estimated costs for retrofitting scrubber to existing vessels, in comparison with the installation of LNG (liquefied natural gas) fuel systems. Not only scrubber technology, but overall fuel efficiency in the maritime logistic chain was the key to lowering emissions, he noted, but shipping should also have its eye on the development of ‘zero emissions’ solutions.

The class and regulatory requirements for retrofitting scrubbers were the focus for Georg Martin, head of GL's system technology department. Martin laid out the safety considerations, class rules and monitoring requirements and noted that Class rules did not require wet scrubber systems to have a scrubber bypass system, as long as the complete system is made of non-combustible material.

A presentation by Torbjorn Henriksson of Wärtsilä Industrial Operations looked at the scrubbing process and Wärtsilla's solutions for scrubbers and for wash water processing, including an insight into Wärtislla's first full-scale SOx scrubber installation on the GL classed Containerships VII, which was completed in August 2011.

Dan Lingenberg, from Couple Systems, looked at the process, installations and logistical use of dry scrubber technology and showed how the systems had been integrated into several vessel types. The presentation included disposal options for the gypsum waste by-product of this scrubbing process.

Sea trial results from a dry scrubber system installation were given Roerd Braren from Reederei Braren. The compoany’s vessel Timbus was fitted with a Couple Systems dry scrubber in 2009, since when a reduction in SOx of more than 99% has been demonstrated. The system has been working reliably and efficiently and as well as reducing SOx, particulate emissions had been reduced some 80% and the entire system could be operated without additional training for the ship’s engineers.

Finally, discussion turned to financing, when Jens Rohleder, of the KfW Mittelstandsbank, Frankfurt, examined options for funding energy efficiency measures in shipping. KfW offers several options for shipowners and operators to obtain investment capital for modernising vessels. Small and medium enterprises could obtain loans at favourable rates for amounts of up to €2 million for general environmental protection measures, Rohleder said.

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